Copyright © 2010 by William R. Mistele.  All rights reserved.


                          An Alchemical Story


Master, I went to see two psychic readers.  I hope you don’t mind. They had some interesting things to say.


Didn’t I give that assignment a while back to all my students? Study some interesting people so as to better observe the variety of ways in which the astral and mental matrixes connect the body, soul, and spirit.


Thank you for reminding me. 


What did they tell you?


At first I thought that they spent a third of the time laying the ground work so I would pay for their candle magic.  Then I thought it was half the time. Finally I decided from the first moment I entered the door everything they said and did was to prep me to buy their expensive cleansing ritual. 


The old lower astral cleansing thing--clear up your aura, get rid of negativity, and chase the demons away.  I suspect somewhere there is this secret school for psychic readers.  There is one degree program and only course—how to sell candle magic.   It is not that these readers are not psychic or gifted.  It is just that they haven’t figured out how to teach others how to do the work for themselves.


Yes. I asked them to teach me how to do what they do but they refused.


I teach candle magic. Your basic lower astral stuff is really about primal instincts, basic desires for sex, success, and happiness. 


Yeah, the girl behind the counter at Starbucks suggested I just go take a shower if I wanted to be cleansed.


What is the going rate these days for candle magic?


One hundred dollars for each candle; one candle per hour with a minimum of five hours.


Must be the economy.  That was the rate last time I checked about thirty years ago, though one time there was a sale: an entire cleansing--two candles, $150.


How did that work out for you?


Oh, she put her soul into it no doubt.  It was honest work on her part.  She was very gifted.  She could read auras and energy.  But it was a waste of time.  She hadn’t a clue about the darkness enfolding the paths I had to travel.  How could she?  She only dealt with the needs of the personality. The Great Work and the mysteries of the Divine Majesty were well beyond the capacity of those of her spiritual rank.          


They did in fact say darkness was before me, also chaos, and evil attacks.  Darkness is not a problem for me.  And neither is evil—like you I am training to be a spiritual cop. It is the word chaos that caught my attention.  Can you say something that?  


“Darkness, evil, and cleansing”—The words of fundamentalist Christianity.  These people have missed their true calling.  They should have been preachers with a church.  Some preachers get a salary these days of $175,000.  More money and more fun too I might add.   

  But concerning chaos.  You already know all of this—the Great Work, the alchemical process leading to the quintessence of wisdom: it always begins with chaos—some dark, impenetrable matter that resists all methods of transformation.


And this is why you have us work so hard right from the first day on establishing magical equilibrium?


That is right.  All matter, the entire physical universe, all paths of evolution revolves around the influences of the four elements.  No matter how confusing life is, how chaotic, and dark, begin the refining process—separate the four elements, work them, work them until each is clear, strong, and positive. Then extract from them the electric and magnetic fluids.  Finally join these two great opposites into one sphere of dynamic creativity. 

   It is impossible to proceed unless one start somewhere.  But hiring someone else to do the cleansing for you is like hiring someone to go to college for you, get an advanced degree, and then hand you the diploma.  It may be fun, entertaining, and reassuring.  But in the end it will gain you precisely nothing.


All the same, the two psychics both zeroed in on my lower astral weaknesses—I lack love in my life; sharing is not there.  In fact, one insisted that one of the two purposes of this life for me is to attain love.   And did you know? This is my last time on earth one insisted.         


I don’t follow this concept about “last life time on earth.”  The earth is Malkuth—the Kingdom.  It is where all spiritual paths circle to and through in order to attain completion.  There may be no other planet in this galaxy as beautiful as the earth, more full of wonder, and sacred beauty, and spiritual destiny. 
   What blindness to imagine that the earth is a place to escape from or leave behind?

   Did I ever tell you the story about the two sisters?


No master.                                                                                 


The story is a poem actually.   Don’t worry.  It is quite short.  It goes like this.                     


Two Sisters


I marry a prince

He shines like the sun

A cup, I overflow with radiant love


I marry no one

No lover, no friend

 Alone, abandoned

I taste disgrace


When night comes

Darkness is my friend

A time to unite

A timeless sea of ecstasy

The songs of dawn

For us rejoice


When night comes

There is only emptiness,

Shadows, cobwebs, cellar doors leading no where

I am silence

A bell without sound

Never stuck, never rung


I flee

I know not--

They send noble knights in search of me--

I wander forgotten, forlorn

Despair is a face I wear


The royal couple ride out

For me they call out

But I am lost

Their search I know not

Down forest roads and narrowing canyons

I sit by a mountain lake

I await a dark fate


Two white horses stride

There where the sun does rise

For me their love abides

The tide turns

Love returns


Who tells this tale?

Which sister cries

Tears of sorrow

Tears of joy?


One marries the sun

One marries no one

But in the end

    The lost is found.    


In the heart, the same darkness

Is a story of loneliness

And a song of love.



There is a lot of sadness in that story.  The plot I am sure is often all too real for real sisters in the real world.  But I could only speculate as to how this is an alchemical story. 


It is not so obscure.  One sister is the personality containing the lower astral and all those basic desires for success, happiness, friendship, and personal love.  And the other sister is the magical identity, the spiritual self that you create through decades of magical training and sacrifice.  She indeed marries a prince—akasha itself—and she shines like the sun, for her beauty is eternal and her radiance unending.


You make it sound like there is a difference between the two? Am I not the same person in my daily life as the person who practices magical exercises?  Am I not the same person now that I shall one day be when I have reached the higher levels of initiation?


I sometimes suggest that an advanced magician is no longer even a human being.  He belongs to many spheres and realms.  The part of himself that others see will almost always only be his personality.  In fact, the level of training required for genuine magic demands that you rewrite your entire life script.    

   You must put off to the side the person your family, community, tradition, religion, and nation would have you be.  And even if you practice only an hour per day, after decades nine tenths of your entire being will be focused inward.

   The part of you that you share with others will then feel like the unmarried sister.  No matter how successful your life, even if you have hundreds of genuine friends, it will make no difference.  The part of you that others know—that part of your soul—will inevitably feel cheated, betrayed, and abandoned by the part that begins to shine bright like an eternal sun.  And that divine part of your self will never be fully shared with humanity.  Even the great world teachers are only able to share a small part of what they are. The rest remains hidden.  

   Almost all human masters work very hard and become very masterful but in the end they sell their souls to their traditions and lineages.  These set before them a safe path with a community that has spent centuries defining through consensus what is sacred and how to celebrate it. Inevitably, complacency seeps in.  As I have said many times, in every breath they breathe in they take far more than they return to the planet or to humanity.             


So what you are saying is that even as the poem contains the  story of two sisters, a magician must continuously be aware of both sides of himself—the human that is here for a brief time and then gone and the other part that is timeless and divine.  But why is this awareness alchemical?


The alchemical process requires that you fully penetrate all opposites, holding them together within your gaze, containing them under great pressure until inevitably they merge, blend, and transform each other.   In this way, you are able to separate the positive and the negative in the four elements and begin the refining process.  The despair, the loneliness, and the abandonment must be captured and embraced. Not set off to the side but in their own time united to the divine.  True alchemy is itself an act of love. Nothing is left behind.            

   By the way, weren’t these two psychics you met mermaid women? That is why you chose them and not someone else. 


Why yes.  I have been reading about mermaid women.  They are astonishingly adept at disguising who they are from other human beings.  The personality they present is never the person they really are.  They even hide from themselves at times the depths and beauty of the love that flows through them. 


Describe the water in these two women. 


One is like a current or undertow that flows deep beneath the surface of a river.  The other is like water that is rising up to the surface and spreading out in all directions.


And what do those images mean to you? 


Both of them know how intuitive they are; they both wish to share their gifts and abilities with others. But unfortunately in these cases they do not identify themselves with the water in nature.  And so they lose their inner peace, the feeling of oneness with all of life, and the capacity to share their energies effortlessly with others precisely the way water does in nature. 

   I noticed right from the outset that their water energy is not at all pure like that of a genuine mermaid woman.  One did not even understand when I said in response to her question, “Why are you here?” I said, “To exchange energies.”   Every mermaid woman understands that exchanging energy is like water—the most natural of things.   

   And yet they are not really here the way other human beings are here—you know, work, play, family, friends, that is, focused on the outer world.  They are in-between the worlds.  But at least by making their intuition into a business they pretend to themselves that they are human. 


And what do you think they are?


They are the first type of mermaid women who are conflicted.  They are far too empathic to be like other human beings.  They feel and perceive what others do not.  But like so many others, they have not yet discovered the wonder and the beauty of what it is to be on this planet. 

   But what has this to do with dividing and refining dark, impenetrable matter and capturing chaos within the cauldron of the soul?


Some talk about the hero’s journey.


Yes, I understand you have a problem with that concept.





The hero’s journey, one story is told throughout the world in a thousand different ways:  Though living in safe, secure, and familiar circumstances, the hero is called, accidentally stumbles, or else is tricked into crossing the boundary demarcating the familiar world and the unknown.

   He leaves behind the setting of family and protective community.  In doing so, he bypasses the shadowy figures or culturally sanctioned guardians who watch over the boundaries leading into the unknown.  Because he travels beyond the safe limits of conventional knowledge, he acquires unusual companions—animal, human, or divine—who aid him in his journey. 

   Along the way, he overcomes dangers, traps, and monsters.  Finally, after undergoing a supreme ordeal, he discovers various kinds of treasures.  But the journey is not yet complete.  These treasures must be brought back and shared with others, for the value of what he finds is not known to him or us until it is established within the human community.


I imagine from this context the two psychics had inciting incidents in which they were “called” but they failed to respond; and so they are now left in a twilight zone between the quest they might have undergone and the world to which they no longer belong. 


The hero’s journey, of course, is sheer nonsense.  There is nothing a matter with the format or layout of the quest idea.  It is just that there is no clear emphasis on real choice to be made—whether to love or not.

  There is only one story being told on this planet and that is how love transforms the world and the consequences of failure.  The hero’s journey, by contrast, is about what men do when they lack genuine contact with the feminine. They go out and fulfill great missions and accomplish great things that enrich the world.  But love is never at the heart of their quest.  Even the Grail Quest is about men in search of the Grail and not about the Grail itself.


So you are saying that to really get at the nature of the lower astral and all those basic human desires and to put them into perspective I will have to embrace both sisters—I will have to fully feel what each feels without identifying with one or the other--one who feels abandoned and the second who is united to the sun.  


To love as the divine loves you must love every aspect of your daily life and see those routines and boring details as aspects of the four elements which you can then use to transform yourself.  Soon enough while you are sitting there doing your breathing exercises or calmly practicing visualization a door will open.  And you will then sense that you are able to enter and flow with and through the life force of anyone or any being on earth, natural, human, or divine.  And as you visualize you will see not just an image of what is but also the future and understand the many ways in which you have a part to play in shaping what shall be.


And the sister with the broken heart? Her despair, her loss, her loneliness, her sorrow and feeling unwanted? 


Like I say, “the horrors and suffering of history are exchanged for joy in the presence of her radiant beauty.”  Concealed in your breath are infinite healing power, beauty, and love that has no end.   

   Find the lost sister in yourself and in others and join them to the light again.  This is the hero’s journey that Campbell does not really understand—the powers of creation unfolding through you as you master yourself that in the same moment transform the world.


I think I know what you are going to ask me next.  You are going to ask me what was the inciting incident or call that the unmarried sister failed to heed?


And your answer?


Marriage itself, like any genuine initiation, is a ritual of death.  Like the seed that falls to the ground and dies, like Psyche in the myth of Eros and Psyche when she drinks the elixir of eternal beauty, one must be willing to leave the world behind in order to embrace the divine. 

  The lower astral desires and instinctual cravings do not disappear even when an individual consciously embraces the light.  Beyond all fear, one sister said to the light, “I give myself to you forever.” And in that moment Divine Providence took her and became one with her.   

  But the other sister was unable to ascend.  She remained a part of time and history, living out her life under massive limitations. Looking around herself, she sees nothing magical going on. 

  And given her personal history, just attaining to happiness is beyond what she can imagine.  There are no signs, no omens, no indications that she will ever find a place to belong or to call her home. 

  But like you say, one day “two white horses stride, there where the sun does rise.”  The ordinary is invaded by the divine, love penetrates the impenetrable, and then the exchange is made—suffering for joy.

   Master, why am I crying?


Because in you the two sisters have found each other again.